Art

Chance reactions: Beauty in the disjointed at Wasteland Gallery

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Brent Holmes

Rather than consider where people live as a contributing factor to their character, artist Brent Holmes is more interested in which century they inhabit philosophically. It paints a more accurate picture, he says. “It defines how people behave more than anything else.”

It might seem exasperating, placing the everyday in historical context as part of the usual thought process, but it’s how Holmes is wired these days. That’s why his Wasteland Gallery exhibit, Love Is a Product of Habit, celebrates creation without divinity, fueled by ideas of Lucretius and Epicurus, but centered on contemporary objects and landscapes. Abstract and representational, the work looks at “today” through the lens of 2,000-year-old ideas on philosophy and science (that still reign depending on the century in which one lives. Holmes puts America in the late 18th). 

Using a Polaroid camera—which allows for flaws, "chaotic variance"—the artist photographed the local landscape and objects within it, scanned and enlarged the images, then went in for the full collision: A series of chance reactions made using paint and brushes, dripped paint, spray paint, resin, other media and whatever else made it into the work (in one case a small crane fly that landed and stuck to the drying resin).

The gestural works—as much about process as completion—are crumpled, warped, weighted, textured, glossy (as if “preserved or trapped in amber”) and, in some cases, completely chaotic. But it’s in the disjointed moments and compositions that Holmes sees a depiction of how the universe is and how we came to be, panning out or not panning out based on one undulation or lack thereof. Whether you agree with his theory of creation depends entirely on your century.

Love is a Product of Habit through April 25; Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wasteland Gallery, 1800 Industrial Road, wastelandgallery.com.

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